“Look it up in the World Book”

“Look it up in the World Book” was my dad’s most frequently given response to me and my siblings. The encyclopedia helped answer our questions. The process of finding information developed life skills. Most importantly, my dad taught us that learning was important at home and not just in the classroom.

Time is essential.  It would have been so much quicker for my dad to give me an answer to whatever question I threw his way.  I’m not sure how many times I probably sighed and possibly even rolled my eyes even though his answer was inevitable. “Look it up.” The most challenging quest was looking up how to spell something. “Dad, how can I look up how to spell it if I don’t know how to spell it?” Trial and error is a good method to perfect, I discovered.

Attitude is key to developing a love for learning. Instead of telling my younger sister and I that he didn’t care much for typing, he had us begin learning how to type while we were children because he said that there would be a generation of adults who would not like to type, and “if you learn how to type, you will always be able to get a job.” He was correct!  My husband and I have lived in three states in the last decade, and that skill set has helped me earn a position in two of those states.  If dad had pulled the ol’ “I was never good at it, so it’s not important” line, I would have missed out on two wonderful job opportunities for which I am forever grateful.

Leading by example is a non-negotiable. My dad loves a good book, and he enjoys traveling to new places. He is always learning about something new, and this love for learning has a direct effect on one’s self-improvement. Just the other day I couldn’t sleep because I finally understood more about place value and long division that I had never understood completely. (Mr. Falde and Mrs. Allen, you were right!  It’s taken a while, but knowing the procedures was essential to the light bulb finally turning on.)

If I had it my way, I’d still be gleaning wisdom from teachers like Mrs. Utz, Mr. Canning, Mrs. Allen, and Dr. Ladd. But I have to get into the world, teach my own classes now, and hope that I honor those teachers as well as so many others.  Because of my parents, I know that self-improvement is never ending, not equivalent with doing the bare minimum, and not limited to the classroom setting. I hope I can pass on this love of learning to my own children no matter how inconvenient it may seem when I’m busy. Mom and dad, thank you!